A strong number of entries have been received for this weekend’s judging of the 20th annual NZ Champions of Cheese Awards at Wintec Te Pūkenga, Rotokauri Campus.

Master Judge, Jason Tarrant, will again preside over the panel of 30 judges. The judges are from across New Zealand are a mix of cheesemakers, cheese retailers, food technologists and food writers who will sniff, taste and assess a range of New Zealand-made cheese across 20 categories including; ewe milk, washed rind, blue cheese, Dutch style, fresh Italian style, Greek-Cypriot style and cheddar.

Jason says “celebrating 20 years of the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards is a fantastic milestone. This 20thanniversary year holds a special place in my heart. I have come full circle as I was making cheese when the Awards started in 2004. Then in 2005 I was proud to be named as the inaugural Champion NZ Cheesemaker.”

While Kiwis’ palates have become more adventurous over the past two decades many things remain the same. The inaugural 2004 NZ Champions of Cheese Champion of Champions Supreme Award went to Mainland for its Ferndale Raclette. While some cheese names such as Ferndale Raclette have been relegated to the cellars of history, many of the champions from 2004 remain much-loved favourites of the local cheese industry including; Mainland, Whitestone Cheese, Puhoi Valley Cheese, Zany Zeus and Kapiti.

Medal winners for NZ Champions of Cheese 2023 will be named on Tuesday 28 March 2023 with the Champions announced at the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards Gala Dinner – celebrating 20 years – at the Atrium in Hamilton on Thursday 4 May 2023.

The NZ Champions of Cheese 2023 Trophies are:

  • Countdown Champion of Champions (Commercial)
  • New World Champion of Champions (Mid-sized)
  • Puhoi Valley Champion of Champions (Boutique)
  • MilkTest NZ Champion Cheesemaker
  • Fonterra Cooperative Group Champion Original Cheese
  • ECOLAB Champion Blue Cheese
  • Filtercorp International Champion New Cheese
  • CHR Hansen Champion Soft White Rind Cheese
  • Kiwi Labels Champion Greek-Style Cheese
  • Cheeselinks Champion Fresh Italian-Style Cheese
  • Wintec Te Pūkenga Champion Fresh Unripened Cheese
  • AsureQuality Champion Dutch-Style Cheese
  • IXOM Champion European-Style Cheese
  • Sabato Champion Farmhouse Cheese
  • Thermaflo Champion Washed Rind Cheese
  • Interchem Agencies Champion Flavoured Aged Cheese
  • Big Chill Distribution Champion Flavoured Fresh Cheese
  • Tetra Pak Champion Retail Cheddar Cheese
  • Sealed Air Champion Bulk Cheddar Cheese
  • Oji Fibre Solutions Champion Goat’s Milk Cheese
  • dish magazine Champion Sheep’s Milk Cheese
  • Dominion Salt Champion Export Cheese

Special Awards:

  • New World Cheese Lovers’ Choice
  • Rutherford & Meyer Chefs’ Choice
  • Countdown Sustainability Award
  • Innovative Packaging Aspiring Cheesemaker

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